The Millennial generation’s been the target of derision in past years. They’re irresponsible. They’re too in-the-moment. Who’s going to pay into our Social Security if they don’t measure up?

Seriously. Every generation gets the same guff from those before them. But does the toast-and-avocado set really deserve the stinkeye? 

The age range for Millennials varies, but the oft-referenced Pew Research Center qualifies those born between 1981 and 1996 or, as recorded in 2019, between the ages of 23 and 37. Nobody has yet come up with an official label for the generation to come, but chances are, we’ll give them a rough time, too.

In the meantime, Millennials are strategizing a sneak attack and turning our expectations upside-down. 

Millennials are Leading the Pack

Those young whippersnappers in their 20s and 30s are in a pretty good position to take advantage of our rebounding economy and tend to be able to afford to go big when they go home buying. 

The Pew Research Center also reports that Millennials are on the brink of outnumbering the aging Baby Boomers, and they’re outperforming them as homebuyers. 

In March 2018, Housingwire crunched some numbers from data compiled by the National Association of Realtors (NAR), and found the following: 

  • Millennials’ income is on the rise as compared to previous years. 
  • Millennials’ home purchases made up to more than two-thirds of all residential sales, which, over the past year, translates to a market share of 36% (as compared to the 34% reflected in 2017 data). This places them as the leading demographic of home-buyers.
  • Millennials are more likely to choose properties that are closer to friends and families than in neighborhoods with better schools.
  • Millennial home-buying preferences favor single-family homes rather than condominiums.

Zillow’s newsletter, Zillow Porchlight reports on the company’s own housing market data, and their findings back up NAR’s. Zillow indicates that rocketing rent premiums prompt potential homebuyers in this particular age range to spend that money towards mortgages. 

Bucking the Hipster Trend

Here’s another surprising fact: Millennials aren’t as tied to urban living as we might think. While about a third of Millennials are living the “urban lifestyle”, the rest are gravitating towards more affordable suburban areas.

“To afford bigger homes, and to find the shared amenities they like such as community gyms and pools, many Millennials are willing to live farther out.”Zillow Porchlight

What’s more, the gap between “starter homes” and “dream homes” is narrowing while urban housing continues to lead in housing prices, so those who can afford down payments are stepping up their game and purchasing more new construction or newer contemporary homes. Many are taking advantage of incentives offered by developers who offer low-down-payment loans for qualified buyers, and many budget-savvy Millennials certainly do measure up. 

The rest? Well, they’re renting…or moving in with their parents until they can save up enough to make competitive bids. But calling them “basement dwellers,” as media often does, isn’t quite fair given previous generations’ history of signing on with pre-2008 predatory loans for the sake of buying more house than they can legitimately afford. 

Embracing the “Surban” Lifestyle

We’re all aware of (and somewhat mystified by) Millennial-speak, but their truncated language might be the only shortcut this generation takes in how they envision their future. They work hard and, having adopted technology as toddlers, they have more career options as jobs begin to open up. And many companies are adapting their cultures to this new wave of employees.

Raised in an era of social consciousness, they demand that their work and personal lives reflect their values, as reported in Palm Beach Magazine’s January 2018 article, “How Millennials are Changing the South Florida Workplace”. Those values emphasize a simplified, experience-oriented quality of life. 

Kid-Focused Lives

And as their generation ages, they’re becoming parents. While they tend to have kids later in life than their predecessors, Millennials outrank all others in the number of U.S. births—82% in 2016. And they’re serious about parenting. 

This might be another driving force behind the urban exodus. Suburban areas tend to have more—and better—parks, and new developments are building communities around this generation’s needs, designing common spaces with nature trails, pools, playgrounds, and community centers geared towards young, active, child-centric families. 

Time is valuable to this generation, and Millennial families are less inclined to sink their money into older urban fixer-uppers, or suburban properties with higher-maintenance landscaping…but still, they want more privacy and space for their kids to play. They value modern, high-quality home amenities, and they’re willing to save through their twenties, skip the starter homes, and purchase well-equipped, turn-key houses in which they can raise their families and put down roots. 

Their affinity for technology and their increased ability to score jobs with flexible work-from-home arrangements helps offset the “commute” factor associated with suburban and exurban living, and as developers respond to the demand for accessible shopping, corner coffee shops, and upscale restaurants, life on the outskirts doesn’t feel as much like being left out of the fun. 

Millennial Homebuyers: Keeping Us On Our Toes

In the past decade or so, urban infill has been all the rage. Urban planners anticipated the new generation to follow the Gen-Xers city-dwelling lifestyle. But the typical Millennials didn’t buy in the big city. Most of them saved up until they were ready to set down roots. They wanted to make their money count, and that’s what they’re doing now.

The more agile and Millennial-savvy developers are building communities with this demographic in mind, and are working with local officials to make sure infrastructure and zoning evolve to meet the needs of the generation that’s about to rule the world. They’re offering incentives to buyers of new construction to help make home buying more attainable for young families.

As these communities begin to take shape, their success inspires peers to explore their options in the suburbs and exurbs, seeking the community networks that fill in for far-flung family connections. 

Millennials are outgrowing stereotypes every day. They’ve proven that their association with instant gratification is undeserved. If they were raised by “helicopter parents”, maybe that wasn’t to their detriment; they’re launching into successful, productive careers and making intentional, responsible life choices on their own.

We, as members of the “older generations”, should be proud: The kids are doing alright.